Medicine: “The surgeons” want to get women excited about the knife

The doctor takes care of the recently operated patient in the hospital every day, but he says: "There was no doctor there all week.

Medicine: “The surgeons” want to get women excited about the knife

The doctor takes care of the recently operated patient in the hospital every day, but he says: "There was no doctor there all week." From now on, anyone who is pregnant is no longer allowed to go to the operating room, but can only do administrative work. Katja Schlosser gives many examples of how the few women who work as surgeons are doing.

Prof. Schlosser is medical director of the Agaplesion Hospital in Central Hesse and chief physician at the Department of Surgery. In her career, she was “the first” or “the only” woman in most positions, as she says. Although medicine is becoming more and more female - around 70 percent of all students in human medicine are women, according to the Federal Statistical Office - according to the Federal Medical Association, the figure in surgery is only around 20 percent.

“The road to the top, where you can operate independently and make decisions, is still very rocky for women,” says Schlosser. "The subject is patriarchal." To ensure that it doesn't stay that way, three years ago women founded the association "The Surgeons e.V." in Marburg. founded. There were 20 women at the first Zoom meeting, and the circle grew rapidly through word of mouth. Soon there were too many for a WhatsApp group, so the women had an app built for them. Today the association has almost 2,000 members.

“I never expected it to go through the roof like it did”

There are forums in which the surgeons exchange ideas: ask for advice, give tips, provide contacts. There is a mentoring program and scholarships. There is a troubleshooting team and a night service chat. “I never expected it to go through the roof like it did,” says Schlosser.

The aim of the network work is to “encourage women to have the confidence to do things,” says the surgeon. Her own experience is: "It's no use accumulating more and more specialist knowledge. You also have to sell yourself." In her view, the fact that so few women make it to the top is also due to the fact that women in “cutting professions” have no role models. "Through the club, women get to know others whose lifestyle may also suit them."

Schlosser is convinced that women are great at networking in their private lives, but not so much at work. "Thomas promotes Thomas and the Sylvias are the busy bees on the ward." The association wants to get more women interested in surgery and motivate them to stick with it even in crises or in the childhood phase. Sometimes this creates friendships for life, as Schlosser explains - like the two female surgeons who were matched as mentors and mentees through the network and who then met for the first time in the delivery room.

The fact that women network specifically is not new

The German Medical Association (DÄB), for example, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. “Since it was re-founded as the German Association of Women Doctors in 1946, a lot has changed for women in general and for us doctors in Germany,” it says. For example, the DÄB sees the fact that part-time work in training is now recognized as a concrete success.

But many construction sites remain: In health policy, the DÄB is committed to gender-differentiated medicine. He calls for family-friendly working conditions in hospitals and practices. And he is fighting for more women at the top: according to a DÄB study, only one in ten leadership positions in university medicine is occupied by a woman.

In order to prevent misunderstandings, the members of The Surgeons emphasize that no one believes that women are always the better surgeons. “Women can do cutting jobs just as well as men, and no one has to be afraid of putting themselves in the hands of a female surgeon,” says Schlosser. It's about women having equal opportunities. She believes that not only male colleagues, but also some patients have less trust in women. The surgeons had buttons printed with the words: “I am the visit”. The pins have to be constantly reordered because the demand is so great.

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